Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom review
I have >30 years of photography experience mainly with 35mm Pentax SLR's but got into digital in 2003 when I was loaned a 4mp Sony DSC-S85 P&S with Carl Zeiss optics. In 2005 I bought my first digicam which was a refurbished Nikon Coolpix 5400 and at the time was all the camera I ever wanted, but as the DP bug bit I later added aCoolpix 8700. I now have a Coolpix 8800 and Nikon D40 Dslr having sold the 5400 and 8700 recently.
Thanks to excellent advice here in DP Review I had been made well aware of the qualities of the Olympus C8080. I won a used on on ebay for £200 (UK) in Sept 07 which I was able to collect in person. It had an enthusiastic owner who had kept it in excellent condition with all accessories. This review is based on a comparison of the 8080 with the other digitals I have owned.
I thought the Coolpix 5400 was wonderful when I first bought it in 2005 but when I saw comparisons with the slightly larger sensors of the 8700 I used it rather less. At longer ranges on the zoom its images could be rather too soft. But its main advantage was the 28mm wide-angle coverage.
The button heavy operation of my previous 8700 was my main reason for off-loading it, but it had an advantage in its lightness of weight. This was replaced by a Coolpix 8800 which is very much a peer of the C8080. Compared to the Nikon 8800 the Olympus gives more natural greens and faster startup but lacks the longer lens reach and VR plus the fully articulated LCD. Both are very fine build quality, the Nikon's ergonomics are slightly better for me, and I prefer the feel of it.
I take mainly outdoor photos and have no issue with the slower operation compared with a Dslr. I shoot mainly at ISO50 and I find I need to set the Saturation up a notch to get best from the colour rendering of the superb Zuiko lens. I have set the AF to use only the centre brackets and this speeds up focussing, and the latest firmware helps. It does not need the AF assist lamp now.
What I like most of all is its lens range and sharpness, image quality, professional feel, and ease of over-riding the settings. You need to practice quite a bit to get the hang of the button functions and menus but they do become easier as you understand the mind of designer.
Compared to my D40 the 8080 has better metering (D40 matrix metering over exposes easily) and the D40's lens gives much more purple fringing than the Olympus.
RAW takes too long between shots (but jpeg's are almost always spot on).